WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center

ADMINISTRATIVE PANEL DECISION

Admiral Group Plc. and EUI Limited v. Privacy Administrator, Anonymize, Inc., WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc / John Morris, Karen Crossby, Anonymize, Inc.

Case No. D2021-0156

1. The Parties

The Complainants are Admiral Group Plc (“Complainant A”) and EUI Limited (“Complainant B”), United Kingdom, represented by A.A.Thornton & Co, United Kingdom.

The Respondents are, Privacy Administrator, Anonymize, Inc. United States of America (“United States”), WhoisGuard Protected, WhoisGuard, Inc, Panama / John Morris, United Kingdom, Karen Crossby, United Kingdom, and Anonymize, Inc., United States.

2. The Domain Names and Registrars

The disputed domain name <m-admiral.com> (“Domain Name 1”) is registered with Hosting Concepts B.V. d/b/a Openprovider (the “First Registrar”).

The disputed domain name <my-admiral.site> (“Domain Name 2”) is registered with NameCheap, Inc. (the “Second Registrar”).

The disputed domain names <uk-admiral.com> (“Domain Name 3”) and <myaccount-admiral.com> (“Domain Name 4”) are registered with Epik, Inc. (the “Third Registrar”). Domain Names 1-4 will collectively be referred to as the “Domain Names”.

3. Procedural History

The Complaint was filed with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center (the “Center”) on January 20, 2021. On January 20, 2021, the Center transmitted by email to the Registrars a request for registrar verification in connection with the Domain Names.

On January 20, 2021, the Second Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for Domain Name 2, which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint.

On January 21, 2021, the First Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for Domain Name 1, which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint.

Om January 29, 2021, the Complainants submitted an amended Complaint together with a request to add Domain Name 4 to the proceeding. The Center transmitted by email on February 1, 2021, to the Third Registrar a new request for registrar verification in connection with Domain Name 4. On February 15, 2021, the Third Registrar transmitted by email to the Center its verification response disclosing registrant and contact information for Domain Names 3 and 4, which differed from the named Respondent and contact information in the Complaint.

The Center sent an email communication to the Complainants on February 16, 2021, providing the registrants and contact information disclosed by the Registrars, and inviting the Complainant to submit an amendment to the Complaint. The Complainant filed an amended Complaint on February 19, 2021.

The Center verified that the Complaint together with the amended Complaints satisfied the formal requirements of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Policy” or “UDRP”), the Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Rules”), and the WIPO Supplemental Rules for Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (the “Supplemental Rules”).

In accordance with the Rules, paragraphs 2 and 4, the Center formally notified the Respondents of the Complaint, and the proceedings commenced on February 25, 2021. In accordance with the Rules, paragraph 5, the due date for Response was March 17, 2021. The Respondents did not submit any response. Accordingly, the Center notified the Respondents’ default on March 18, 2021.

The Center appointed Karen Fong as the sole panelist in this matter on March 26, 2021. The Panel finds that it was properly constituted. The Panel has submitted the Statement of Acceptance and Declaration of Impartiality and Independence, as required by the Center to ensure compliance with the Rules, paragraph 7.

4. Factual Background

The Complainant A operates a number of insurance brands including ADMIRAL in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, Canada, India, Mexico, Turkey and the United States.

The Complainant B is a wholly owned subsidiary of Complainant A and owns and operates the ADMIRAL insurance brand. For convenience, the Complainants will be referred to individually and collectively as “the Complainant.”

The ADMIRAL brand was launched in 1993 in connection with insurance services and since 2017 in connection with personal loans. Complainant B owns the ADMIRAL trade mark registrations in the various jurisdictions and the domain name <admiral.com>. The earliest ADMIRAL trade mark submitted in evidence was registered in 1994 (the Trade Mark”). United Kingdom Trade Mark registration no. UK00001510607, ADMIRAL, registered on June 17, 1994. In addition to the word mark ADMIRAL, the Complainant also uses and has trade mark registrations for the ADMIRAL device which comprises the figure of an admiral in a bicorn hat looking through a telescope in one hand within a circular device (the “ADMIRAL Device”).

ADMIRAL household insurance has more than 1 million customers and a turnover of GBP 171 million. The ADMIRAL insurance brand was voted Best Motor Insurance Provider by consumers at the Personal Finance Awards for seven years in a row.

The Complaint involves four Domain Names which are registered by multiple Respondents as detailed below:

No

Domain Name

Registrant

Date of Registration

Comments

1

<m-admiral.com>

John Morris

January 9, 2021

Domain Names 1, 2 and 4 were used as part of text messages sent to members of the public with insurance policy numbers and vehicle registration numbers suggesting to recipients that urgent action needed to be taken in relation to their insurance policies by tapping on the link of the websites connected to the respective Domain Names (“Websites 1, 2 & 4”, collectively the “Websites”) to avoid cancellation of the recipient’s vehicle insurance policy. (“Phishing Messages”).

The Websites all bear the Trade Mark and the Admiral Device and has online forms for personal information including date of birth, email addresses and passwords. The Websites also has tabs requesting for payment card number details.

When trying to access the Websites in certain web browers, a message was displayed warning that a deceptive site has been detected that may trick the user into revealing personal information or installing malicious software.

Domain Name 1 has the same email address in its WhoIs details as Domain Name 2.

2

<my-admiral.site>

Karen Crossby

January 15, 2021

See Comments for Domain Name 1 above.

3

<uk-admiral.com>

Anonymize, Inc.

January 13, 2021

The website connected to Domain Name 3 (“Website 3”) bears the same/similar characteristics as the Websites and will hereafter collectively with Websites 1, 2 and 4 be referred to as “the Websites”.

4

<myaccount-admiral.com>

Anonymize, Inc.

January 21, 2021

See Comments for Domain Name 1 above.

The content on Website 4 changed from the above to one purported to be operated by or connected to a third party selling platform www.gumtree.com and reproduces the GUMTREE trade marks but with the same online form requesting personal information and financial details as stated above.

5. Parties’ Contentions

A. Complainant

The Complainant contends that the Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to the Trade Mark, the Respondents have no rights or legitimate interests with respect to the Domain Names, and that the Domain Names were registered and are being used in bad faith. The Complainant requests transfer of the Domain Names, all of which it believes are related and under management and common control of a single entity or network. The basis of its belief that the registrants are related and under management and common control of a single network are set out in the comments in the table above.

B. Respondents

The Respondents did not reply to the Complainant’s contentions.

6. Preliminary Procedural Issue

Domain Name 4 was registered the day after the Complaint was filed. The Complainant has requested that Domain Name 4 be added to the Complaint on January 29, 2021.

It is up to the Panel to determine whether or not to accept requests to add domain names to the Complaint after a Complaint has been filed or after the Respondent has been notified and the proceedings have formally commenced (see section 4.12.2 of WIPO Overview of WIPO Panel Views on Selected UDRP Questions, Third Edition (“WIPO Overview 3.0”)).

Previous UDRP panels have been reluctant to accept requests after the commencement of proceedings unless there is clear evidence of the respondent gaming or attempts to frustrate the proceedings.

The Panel considers that this is a case where it is appropriate to add Domain Name 4 to the Complaint for the following reasons:

- the Respondent has been notified about the proceeding, so it would not be prejudiced.

- the Respondent uses the same modus operandi as that of Domain Names 1 and 2.

- Domain Name 4 includes the Trade Mark within the Domain Name and its Website bears the Trade Mark and the Admiral Device.

- it is expedient to hear and determine them together in order to avoid the potentially varying decisions resulting from separate proceedings and to incur supplemental unnecessary costs for the Complainant;

- the Respondent had the opportunity to respond and has not done so.

Consolidation of the Proceeding

Paragraph 4(f) of the Policy allows a panel to consolidate multiple disputes between parties at its sole discretion and paragraph 10(e) of the Rules empowers a panel to consolidate multiple domain name disputes in accordance with the Policy and the Rules. Neither the Policy nor the Rules expressly provide for the consolidation of multiple respondents in a single administrative proceeding. In fact, paragraph 3(c) of the Rules provides that a complaint may relate to more than one domain name provided that the domain names are registered by the same domain name holder. The UDRP panel in Speedo Holdings B.V. v. Programmer, Miss Kathy Beckerson, John Smitt, Matthew Simmons, WIPO Case No. D2010-0281, reviewed the relevant UDRP decisions in relation to consolidation in multiple respondents’ cases and extracted the following general principles:

“1. Consolidation of multiple registrants as respondents in a single administrative proceeding may in certain circumstances be appropriate under paragraphs 3(c) or 10(e) of the Rules provided the complainant can demonstrate that the disputed domain names or the websites to which they resolve are subject to common control, and the panel having regard to all of the relevant circumstances, determines that consolidation would be procedurally efficient and fair and equitable to all parties.

2. The administrative provider should act as a preliminary gatekeeper in such cases by determining whether or not such complaints fulfill the requisite criteria. Once a case is admitted on a prima facie basis, the respondent has the opportunity to make its submissions on the validity of the consolidation together with its substantive arguments. In the event that the panel makes a finding that the complaint has not satisfied the requisite criteria, the complainant is not precluded from filing the complaint against the individual named respondents.”

The Complainant has provided good evidence referred to above to substantiate its case that the Respondents are either one and the same person, entity or network and are somehow connected to each other and under common control aimed at intentionally infringing the Complainant’s marks.

Accordingly, applying the principles to the facts in this case, the Panel finds that the Complainant has established more likely than not that the Domain Names are subject to common ownership or control. The Panel finds such common control to justify consolidation of the Complainant’s claims against the registrants of the Domain Names in this proceeding. The Panel further concludes in the circumstances of this case that consolidation would be fair and equitable to all parties and procedurally efficient, and therefore will allow the consolidation as requested by the Complainant pursuant to paragraph 10(e) of the Rules. The Respondents may therefore be referred to as the Respondent.

7. Discussion and Findings

7.1. General

According to paragraph 4(a) of the Policy, for this Complaint to succeed in relation to the Domain Names, the Complainant must prove each of the following, namely that:

(i) the Domain Names are identical or confusingly similar to a trade mark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and
(ii) the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names; and
(iii) the Domain Names were registered and are being used in bad faith.

7.2. Substantive Analysis

A. Identical or Confusingly Similar

The Panel is satisfied that the Complainant has established that it has rights to the Trade Mark.

The threshold test for confusingly similarity involves the comparison between the trade mark and the domain name itself such that the trade mark would generally be recognizable within the domain name. In this case the Complainant’s registered trade mark is reproduced in its entirety in all the Domain Names with the addition of letter “m” and a hyphen in Domain Name 1, the geographical term “uk” and a hyphen in Domain Name 2, the word “my” and a hyphen in Domain Name 3 and the words “my account” and a hyphen in the case of Domain Name 4.

For the purposes of assessing identity and confusing similarity under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy, it is permissible for the Panel to ignore the various generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”) suffixes which in this case are “.com” and “.site” (see section 1.11 of WIPO Overview 3.0). For the reasons above, the Panel finds that the Domain Names are confusingly similar to trade marks in which the Complainant has rights.

B. Rights or Legitimate Interests

Pursuant to paragraph 4(c) of the Policy, a respondent may establish rights to or legitimate interests in the domain name by demonstrating any of the following:

(i) before any notice to it of the dispute, the respondent’s use of, or demonstrable preparations to use, the domain name or a name corresponding to the domain name in connection with a bona fide offering of goods or services; or

(ii) the respondent has been commonly known by the domain name, even if it has acquired no trade mark or service mark rights; or

(iii) the respondent is making a legitimate noncommercial or fair use of the domain name, without intent for commercial gain, to misleadingly divert consumers.

Although the Policy addresses ways in which a respondent may demonstrate rights or legitimate interests in a disputed domain name, it is well established that, as it is put in section 2.1 of WIPO Overview 3.0, that a complainant is required to make out a prima facie case that the respondent lacks rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. Once such prima facie case is made, the burden of production shifts to the respondent to come forward with appropriate allegations or evidence demonstrating rights or legitimate interests in the domain name. If the respondent does come forward with some allegations of evidence of relevant rights or legitimate interests, the panel weighs all the evidence, with the burden of proof always remaining on the complainant.

The Complainant contends that the Respondent’s unauthorized use of the Trade Mark in the Domain Names in relation to the phishing messages texts and the Websites, which have been set up for a phishing scheme by creating an impression of connection and association with the Complainant in order to lure Internet users to provide personal details, including payment card details, could never confer legitimate rights or interest in the Domain Names.

The Panel finds that the Complainant has made out a prima facie case, a case calling for an answer from the Respondent. The Respondent has not responded and the Panel is unable to conceive of any basis upon which the Respondent could sensibly be said to have any rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names.

The Panel finds that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the Domain Names.

C. Registered and Used in Bad Faith

To succeed under the Policy, the Complainant must show that the Domain Names have been both registered and used in bad faith. It is a double requirement.

The Panel is satisfied that the Respondent must have been aware of the Trade Mark when it registered the Domain Names. The Complainant’s trade marks predate the registration of the Domain Names and the Domain Names consist of the Trade Mark in its entirety. The fact that the Websites bears the Trade Mark and the Admiral Device and purports to be connected to the Complainant further evidences the Respondent’s awareness of the Trade Mark.

Section 3.2.2 of WIPO Overview 3.0 states as follows:

“Noting the near instantaneous and global reach of the Internet and search engines, and particularly in circumstances where the complainant’s mark is widely known (including in its sector) or highly specific and a respondent cannot credibly claim to have been unaware of the mark (particularly in the case of domainers), panels have been prepared to infer that the respondent knew, or have found that the respondent should have known, that its registration would be identical or confusingly similar to a complainant’s mark. Further factors including the nature of the domain name, the chosen top-level domain, any use of the domain name, or any respondent pattern, may obviate a respondent’s claim not to have been aware of the complainant’s mark.”

The fact that there is a clear absence of rights or legitimate interests coupled with no explanation for the Respondent’s choice of the Domain Names is also a significant factor to consider (as stated in section 3.2.1 of WIPO Overview 3.0). In light of the above, the Panel finds that registration is in bad faith.

The Domain Names are also used in bad faith. The websites are used as part of a phishing scheme as explained above. Illegal activities such as this is clear evidence of bad faith use. Such activities have been set up for the commercial benefit of the Respondent to the detriment of the Complainant. The Domain Names are likely to confuse Internet users that they are in fact on the Complainant’s official website. Such confusion will inevitably result due to the incorporation of the Trade Mark as the most prominent element of the Domain Names. The Respondent employs the reputation of the Trade Mark to mislead users into visiting the Websites instead of the Complainants. From the above, the Panel concludes that the Respondent intentionally attempted to attract for commercial gain, by misleading Internet users into believing that the Respondent’s websites are authorised or somehow connected to the Complainant. The Panel therefore also concludes that the Domain Names were registered and are being used in bad faith under paragraph 4(b)(iv) of the Policy.

8. Decision

For the foregoing reasons, in accordance with paragraphs 4(i) of the Policy and 15 of the Rules, the Panel orders that the Domain Names, <m-admiral.com>, <my-admiral.site>, <uk-admiral.com>, and <myaccount-admiral.com> be transferred to the Complainant B.

Karen Fong
Sole Panelist
Date: April 11, 2021